Call to Scrap Universal Credit
Today Labour asked for Universal Credit to be scrapped – and the Government didn’t have a leg to stand on with their defence of this failed system that is clearly causing misery up and down the country. I wasn’t called to speak (so many MPs had stories to tell) but if I had done this is what I would have said :
Universal Credit was destined to fail when it was designed to make people wait longer for payment than they would have to if they were in work.
People can’t learn to budget with nothing. This is a fact the member for Chingford and Woodford Green – the architect of Universal Credit who I suspect would not have to worry too much if he wasn’t paid for a month – failed to understand.
The system relies on people – many only just about managing – taking out loans. Any benefits system that can immediately force recipients into debt, desperation and destitution, is fatally flawed.
Many MPs on both sides of the House have spoken again and again about the devastating impact of Universal Credit on people’s lives, of delayed payments, of sanctions. Families in their droves being forced further into debt, having to take emergency measures to use food banks to get by.
Yet for years the Government has largely dismissed these stories and carried on regardless. The tinkering around the edges has not fixed the problems and has just added layers of complication which in the end – always impact people.
And let us not forget, these people are not victims, they are people in work, out of work – all kinds of situations – claiming benefits they are entitled to for themselves and their children. Yet many people have had to fight and jump through all kinds of hoops to receive payment. And were not believed by this Government, when they told us they were receiving less money than they were before.
My postbag on Universal Credit gives the perfect picture of what humanity looks like under a Conservative Government and I can tell you now, it is not humane. Picture the single parent, a nurse working, studying and trying to better herself: £150 worse off on Universal Credit. Already relying on friends and family to provide school uniform and food banks to feed her child, she said she could no longer afford the childcare to continue to work and study.
Picture the parent who wrote to tell me they couldn’t take it any more after the DWP said they hadn’t received the evidence they needed to proceed with the case when they had – that she wished she could take the DWP to court to pay for all the financial and emotional damage the delays had caused to the family.
Picture the new mother who wrote to me to say she can’t afford the food and milk for her 9 month old, let alone look after herself on £46 a week when her maternity pay came to an end.
This is a picture this Government painted and should be ashamed of. But instead it is the people who are suffering the indignity of this poorly implemented system that are feeling the shame that comes with poverty.
This isn’t helping people into work – it’s making it impossible for some to manage at all.
The Government may have finally admitted to helping people more – but this needs to include retrospective help for the lives they have damaged.
We are now at the ninth delay to the rollout. It’s an unmitigated disaster and must be stopped until the system can be delivered. This means putting back the billions that were taken out of the system at the start because as the Government is finding out, getting it so wrong is costing us more.